November 12th, 2019

Florida’s Mmoh Wins Emotional 1st USTA Pro Circuit of 2019 at Knoxville

Pro Tennis

Bradenton’s Michael Mmoh won a pro circuit title on Sunday, his first of the year, when he defeated No. 8 seed Christopher O’Connell of Australia 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the ATP Challenger 80 tournament in Knoxville, Tenn.

“I’ve only played half the year,” said the 21-year-old who was sidelined for approximately three months with a shoulder injury. “I’ve played 30 matches this year and everyone else has played more than 70. I feel relatively fresh.”

Mmoh had an emotional comeback from a USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville a week ago where he was defaulted for throwing his racquet and inadvertently hitting a linesman in an uncharacteristic moment.

“Right after the match I went to the little cafe area in Charlottesville,” Mmoh told broadcaster Mike Cation. “I was sitting down with my mom. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life. I was just balling my eyes out. I was so disappointed in myself and embarrassed. I didn’t know how I would make it past that. I didn’t know how I could even play tennis again, which is so sad. It was a low moment. I took it one moment at a time and one day at a time. My mom definitely gave me a lot of power and a lot of courage.”

With the title Mmoh padded his lead in the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge which awards a main draw wild card to the player with the most accumulated points over a series of events. Mmoh this week is playing in Houston with one week left in the Aussie Open challenge.

Mmoh, who reached a career-high No. 96 a year ago on the ATP World Tour Rankings, rose to No. 238 after the title.

“This was probably my best volleying performance ever,” he said of the final. “I knew he was going to slice every return and if I came in, I’d get a volley I liked. I just had to go for it and trust myself…I found out that he wasn’t passing as well, and I won a lot of points when I came to the net. I just knew the percentages were on my side.”

Mmoh is now 1-1 in USTA Pro Circuit finals this year after falling to Andreas Seppi in the three-set Cary, N.C., event in September.

The doubles title went to the unseeded team of Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, who beat the unseeded team of American Bradley Klahn and Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 7-6(6), 4-6, 10-5 in the final.